People like to draw parallels all the time. Making things ‘the same’ seems to make us feel comfortable and content. It also allows us the delusion of being ‘above any fray’ like the princes that kept the view in Dylan’s ‘Watchtower’ while we more accurately are in the role of the two riders approaching.
The latest popular one is saying Trump and Sanders are both ‘the same.’ Don’t believe that. Both candidates are appealing to voters on a similar level, but that is where the comparison ends. Trump wants to further neuter government and give more power to Corporations.
That’s not me smearing him, he brags about it. When he talks about those ‘killers’ that would be working for him in his administration, those are Wall Street and big business people who will strip government of any remaining influence it has and turn it over to himself and the billionaire class.
Sanders, by contrast, wants to give the power back to the people, as prescribed in the Constitution. Big difference, folks.
What do I mean by all this?
First off, what’s with the Dylan reference, Sean?
Okay, let me explain …
One of my favorite songs of all time is Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower.’ I love it on many levels. As a musician, I love its musical simplicity and universalness. It is true ‘three chord’ rock and roll. For music theorists out there, a simple minor key I, VII, VI, VII progression. It is ‘universal’ because the song can literally be played in any genre one chooses. It can be done straight ahead rock, as Dylan originally recorded it. It can be done in a more ‘psychedelic sense‘ as Jimi Hendrix interpreted it. It can be done reggae, bluegrass, blues, country, other abstract ways, and a chamber music quartet can give it a romantic era classical touch. It can be done with large bands or solo. It is truly one of the most adaptable songs I have ever come across.
How does that relate to Trump, Sanders, and the 2016 election?
Well, most of us do indeed live pretty simple lives. Yes, we all have our dramas, trials, and tribulations. But we don’t live the lives of the one percenters. Most of us have pretty simple tax returns, finances, and what-not. We do our jobs, we raise our children and do the best we can. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Those things are nearly universal for us ’99 percenters.’ True, not all of us choose to have or are blessed with children, but as Hillary Clinton famously said and wrote ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Indeed, it does. So whether we have children in our own home now or ever, we are all, in some ways, raising all our children.
Another, and probably more important reason I love that song is the lyric. Many people know the lyric, but many I bet ever sat down and really read it. It is one of Dylan’s finest. Like the music, it is simple. Three verses, unlike some of his longer works. The verses are relatively short, as well.
It tells the story of two ‘common’ people — the ‘joker’ and the ‘thief.’ The two meet up, probably by chance, in the middle of great turmoil. The joker speaks first, pleading with the other that ‘there must be some way out of here!’ and that the confusion that the environment is causing is driving him nuts. he then goes on to boast how he is usually ;the smartest man in the room’ when he says ‘business men they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth — none of them along the line, know what any of it is worth.’
The thief then replies in the second verse. He calms the joker down. ‘No reason to get excited,’ he says. He then appeals to the joker’s ‘snooty’ nature — ‘there are many here among us, who feel that life is but a joke.’ He continues ‘but you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate.’
In other words, ‘we are smarter than all these clods out there.’
The thief finishes his statement with a ‘come on, we gotta get out of here’ when he says ‘let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.’
The third verse is really what I referenced, though. This verse speaks of ‘the government’ fairly directly. The princes sit at the top of the watchtower, watching all the chaos below. Their servants and women serve them as they please. They are untouched by the normalities of life that the other 99 percent endure daily.
The ‘two’ approaching are assumedly the joker and thief. They come to the watchtower to either escape the chaos or ask the princes to help them. before they can even get there, however, they are savagely eaten alive by the elements that exist in their world — the world the watchtower is kept safe from.
Here is the complete lyric;
“There must be some way out of here” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion”, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.
“No reason to get excited”, the thief he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
We all think we are the princes in the tower when in reality we are the commoners out in the wilderness. We never get close to the safe haven of the glorious (Trump) tower.
Donald Trump plays on that misconception. He plays on our delusion of ourselves. He’s a great salesman. Great salesmen not only sell themselves, they sell you the dream. The dream you want to believe. When Trump speaks of ‘winning, winning and more winning’ people hear that their bank accounts will overflow, money will be falling out of their pockets but they won’t care because those pockets will be so full. We will all be in the watchtower, we will all be the one percent. Of course, Trump never says how this will happen. He eludes to walls, and making companies ‘offers they can’t refuse’ like Vito Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ but any quick fact check will tell anyone a President can’t do what he brags about in stump speeches. He can’t just arbitrarily throw taxes down on companies like that.
Trump doesn’t want you in his tower, and I can prove it.
You know all that big billionaire money on the GOP side? Sheldon Adelson money? Koch Brother money? They aren’t spending it. They throw a morsel here and there, but the big bucks — that’s staying in the account. Why? The billionaires want Trump to win. When the talking heads on TV talk about the movements to stop Trump, those are from political insiders, but not the billionaires that really fuel everything GOP. It is obvious that Trump is simply representing them (while pretending to represent the ‘common man’) by grabbing and pitching every populist notion out there. It’s not about policy to Trump, it is about being ‘in charge.’
The billionaires want Trump to win. Plain and simple — like the song. They know Trump would be the most pro big business, pro one percenter president EVER. It wouldn’t be close. Sheldon can spend his ‘pro-Isreal’ dollars on congressional candidates. Both of them know Trump doesn’t need their money, and they have never spent any serious money opposing him. For good reason, from their perspective.
Trump is selling a trip like a travel agent sells a vacation. Except the voter will never reach the destination with Trump. He knows his ‘winning’ policies will simply continue to fuel the income inequality that has grown under GOP influence. Yes, some democrats have been lead astray over the years, but let us not kid ourselves on which party ultimately stands up for big business and which ultimately stands for the working men, women, and families.
You cannot make an accurate parallel between Trump and Sanders. They are on the opposite ends of the watchtower. One wants to make the watchtower bigger and better, and figures the people will be so impressed with its magnificent glory that they will not notice nothing in their life outside the safety of that tower has gotten any better in any way.
And remember, you cannot come into the tower, the savage animals will get you before you even come close. Your screams and cries will be swallowed up by the howling wind. In the end, you will not matter.
On the other hand, Bernie Sanders wants to tear the watchtower down. Not in a violent way, but mostly righting many wrongs through the tax code. Agree with him or not, it is clear who’s side he is on. He has managed to outvoice the howling winds and keep the political animals at bay while building a movement. Whether or not Sanders gets the nomination, and he probably won’t, Sanders has won a lot. He has made it to the proverbial tower and surrounded it with the masses to demand justice be served. That movement won’t die with the election. It is built on well thought out policy and direction. It speaks to truths, again whether you believe in his solutions or not. If a democrat should win in November, even if it is Clinton and not Sanders, and the democrats manage to take at least one house of Congress, if not both, the issues that Sanders has pushed surely will get strong support and consideration than they have in the past as they ride a liberal wave that this nation has not seen in a very long time, if ever.
I believe Trump’s will. Yes, there will always be people who think ‘drowning government in a bathtub’ needs to involve selling one’s soul to the billionaires and big business. Despite being discredited for decades, the promise of ‘trickle down’ or ‘you can be rich like me if you elect me’ will always exist. Fortunately, their numbers ultimately still put them in a minority. Also, the Trump ‘movement’ has shown itself to be people without principle. Well, without any principle except ‘whatever we (Trump) say(s) is right.’ His followers have shown themselves to be every bit as flip-floppy as their hero. When Trump ultimately loses — whether it is in the convention process or general election, the bloom will be off the rose, and the emperor will be wearing no clothes.
Many of those devout followers will hitch their wagons elsewhere, I predict. Some of them perhaps coming back home to the Democratic Party or, at least, many of the causes that Sanders and Clinton have promoted. Sure, Trump will have his die-hards, and he will probably be writing books and finding ways to make money off of them because that is what he does.
Sanders will be fighting in a much more liberal Congress for what he has stood for over decades. Except now, he will be doing it with some clout, vs being a total outsider. Because that is what he does.
We will continue to do what we do as a society. We will work our jobs, take care of our families, look out for those around us and try to live good lives and avoid the chaos and savagery that life can dish out. Because that is what we do. Don’t be delusional, we are not in the watchtower looking down. We are all ‘outside in the distance.’
That is why it matters for us to vote in our best interests in the real world we live in and not the snake-oil dreams coming from Trump’s watchtower. Don’t be deluded and don’t be fooled.
There is no comparison between these two ‘populists.’ One is a salesman, the other is a statesman and a gentleman. One is standing up for his billionaire friends in his glorious gold tower, the other is actually fighting for you and yours … just like you do, every day.